Foreign Policy Blogs

The 51st State

Today brought the news that Barack Obama had won the vote among registered overseas Democrats, beating Hillary Clinton 65% to 32%.  Some 22,000 overseas Americans in 164 countries took part in the week-long vote.

However, following the Democrats’ usual rules that award convention delegates proportionately, Obama was awarded only 2.5 delegates to Clinton's 2.0.

Another 2.5 delegate votes will be determined at a Democrats Abroad convention, and yet another 4 delegates are superdelegates, presumably undeclared.

With every single delegate on the Democratic side strongly contested by the Clinton and Obama camps, these relatively small totals will get attention in the coming weeks.

But the reason for noting this here, on this blog, is the spin that Democrats Abroad gives to the vote:

“With the U.S. image so badly damaged by the present Administration, American Democrats living overseas were eager to have their voices heard,” said Christine Schon Marques, International Chair of Democrats Abroad in Geneva.  “Across the board we saw an enormous diversity in participation, including many first-time voters.”

Whether the frayed image of the United States is added motivation for overseas Americans to vote is, as yet, unproven.  The Republican Party awards no delegates to its members overseas; they vote by mail in individual state primaries.

Still, one might at least hope that the sight of so many Americans taking part in the political process will give foreigners a more positive view of American democracy.



Mark Dillen

Mark Dillen heads Dillen Associates LLC, an international public affairs consultancy based in San Francisco and Croatia. A former Senior Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department, Mark managed political, media and cultural relations for US embassies in Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Sofia and Belgrade, then moved to the private sector. He has degrees from Columbia and Michigan and was a Diplomat-in-Residence at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins. Mark has also worked for USAID as a media and political advisor and twice served as election observer and organizer for OSCE in Eastern Europe.

Areas of Focus:
US Government; Europe; Diplomacy